Progressive Writers Bloc

Did President Bush Cause Hurricane Ivan?

Uncle Bill Warner

200 MPH winds! Wow! The hurricanes striking Florida are getting meaner and meaner. There is much speculation in the scientific community about the reasons, but it is generally agreed that warming of the oceans as part of a pattern of global warming is a contributing factor.

There seems to be a lot of denial out there about global warming. Rush Limbaugh makes fun of scientific findings that global warming is taking place and that it is a problem. Wonder if his Florida mansion is well-insured? President Bush, who evidently stays tuned in to Limbaugh's rants, pulled out of the he Kyoto accords on global warming, citing the costs to the U.S., and pooh-poohing the existence of the problem. "Denial" is not just a river on Egypt.

It is interesting to get involved in a little "what if" exercise to try to connect the dots and get a clearer picture of what is going on. The Union of Concerned Scientists, who is not, incidentally, sponsored by big corporate polluters, has some real expertise in science and is worried as hell. Limbaugh and Bush appear to get their information from selected sources....somewhat like the doctors in the pay of the tobacco companies who are always coming up with studies to show that cigarettes do not really cause lung cancer.

Let's just suppose for a minute, that many big corporate polluters might have an interest in not installing expensive anti-pollution equipment to save money. Money spent in making their operations cleaner is money not going to pay those stock dividends or big CEO salaries, or even paying lobbyists to weaken environmental standards,. Limbaugh says that emission controls are a "commie anti-capitalist plot." Oh really? If you buy that, I have a bridge I can sell you cheap...

Even Rush Limbaugh's buddies would have to admit that a few degrees of temperature change over a certain period of time could have a number of not-so-very-pleasant effects. Not only would cities like New Orleans, London and Venice, which are already having problems of flooding from the rising oceans be affected by melting polar ice, but a few degrees temperature change can also threaten certain crops here in the Valley and around the world. Certain species of wildlife and fish would disappear. It is not a question of "WILL it be a disaster", but" when and how bad."

Am I saying that President Bush and his handlers are responsible for hurricanes? You'll have to decide which dots need to be connected to give us a truer picture of reality.

The U.S. is responsible for about 1/5 of the atmospheric gasses that cause the greenhouse effect, but China and India want to get in on the fun as they industrialize. Imagine what 500 million Chinese automobiles alone could put into the stratosphere! Is the U.S. taking the lead in pollution control? No way! President Bush pulled us out of the Kyoto conference and refused to sign on to anything that would reduce pollution (and inhibit corporate profits). Is this a step in the right direction? Better to have a global struggle for control of the dwindling oil reserves rather than changing the way we do business.

Now just suppose, for the sake of argument, that a rise in the global temperature of just 1%, (which is what it has risen since the industrial revolution got in high gear), can make a difference in things like changes in the ocean temperature which produces water temps that destroy fishing off the coast of Peru to the growth of deserts in North Africa to the force of hurricanes coming out of the Caribbean. What are we doing about it? Ask President Bush.

We tend to think in the short term. Hey, so the earth is warming up...we still "need" that SUV, that RV, that electricity produced from oil and coal burning power plants to run our air conditioners! Taking away our "freedoms" to do whatever makes us happy today is un-American, right? Some of us are still mad about "big government" taking away our right to use R-12 CFC refrigerant. And who is the government to tell us that we have to drive more fuel- efficient vehicles offer subsidies with our tax money to help people install photovoltaic arrays on their roofs to reduce their demand on the power grid? ? Could the U.S. President take the lead to help reduce the man-made contribution to global warming? If not him, who?

No, I don't blame the President for Hurricane Ivan, but if I lived in Florida, I'd be asking what the government has done to slow the global warming that affects their weather. I'd ask why we are spending our blood and resources to get more oil which contributes to the fossil-fuel-emissions problem. I'd be asking why we couldn't be the most responsible country in the world when it comes to saving the environment, instead of pretending that there is no problem? I might even be asking why we have a system of campaign financing that encourages politicians to support bad science sponsored by the polluters, and which hinders rather than helps clean things up.

It is hard to escape the conclusion that having Bush, Cheney, Rice and Co. all tied to the oil industry are more interested in securing more oil by any means, be it war or despoiling the Alaskan wilderness, that in standing tall against the causes of the world problem. It is also hard to avoid coming to the conclusion that we, too, are at fault for not changing our contributions to the situation because of our life style, and by not electing leadership that is more interested in short term profits than in the future of the planet.

Maybe connecting the dots: global warming... corporate profits... campaign contributions... climate changes... hurricanes... public apathy... lack of government leadership... lack of media responsibility... and a few others might give a different picture than we presently have. We can start by asking ourselves whether we are passengers or crew members on Spaceship earth. We also need to pay some attention to who is at the helm of this fragile spaceship/planet.

Hurricane Ivan. It's as hard to pin the blame for a specific hurricane as it is to say which cigarette in a life-long smoking habit gave you lung cancer. Nature was producing hurricanes before man lit his first camp fire. However, our activities are starting to add fuel to nature's weapons of mass destruction. We need to make fundamental changes in the way we conduct our lives and our business to avert catestrophic global warming. Is it too much to ask that the President and his compadres start looking at real data, real issues, and stop being part of the problem?

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